President Trump said Thursday that his former lawyer and longtime fixer Michael Cohen should have known the hush-money payments — that U.S. prosecutors say Trump ordered — were illegal. “I never directed Michael Cohen to break the law,” Trump tweeted. On Wednesday, Cohen was sentenced to 36 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to tax and fraud charges related to his personal business dealings, and to campaign finance violations stemming from his role in arranging payments on the eve of the 2016 presidential election to two women who claimed they had affairs with Trump.
Insurance claims from the recent devastating California wildfires that killed at least 89 people and destroyed 19,000 homes and businesses have reached at least $9 billion, the state's insurance commissioner said Wednesday. "The devastating wildfires of 2018 were the deadliest and costliest wildfire catastrophes in California's history," said California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones. Most of the insurance payouts -- some $7 billion -- concern the Camp Fire in Northern California, which wiped out the town of Paradise and killed 86 people, making it the deadliest wildfire in recent California history.
French President Emmanuel Macron will head to Strasbourg on Friday evening, one day after the suspect in Tuesday's attack near the city's famous Christmas market was shot dead in a police operation. The president's office said Macron will go to the eastern French city after the end of a European summit he is attending in Brussels. Macron wants to show his "support for the victims' families" and "pay tribute to the victims." He will also meet with security forces deployed in Strasbourg to thank them, according to the statement.
Technology researchers in China have been ordered to not travel to the US unless it is absolutely necessary, amid rising tensions between the two countries. Staff working in sensitive tech sectors were given the warning following the arrest of a Chinese tech executive in Canada, a source told the South China Morning Post. Workers at a research agency were also told to remove any sensitive data from laptops, mobile phones and other devices if travel to the US was essential.
Toyota gets hip to the beauty of all-wheel drive-and also of beauty. From Car and Driver
Talks in Sweden between Yemen's warring parties on Thursday led to a major breakthrough in blunting a devastating war that has killed thousands and driven the country to famine, with both sides agreeing on a ceasefire in a key port that acts as a lifeline for millions. UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres announced that the Iran-linked Houthi rebels, who control Hodeidah port, had reached a ceasefire there with the Saudi-led coalition that was massing troops in the Red Sea city ahead of a final push into the port.
Luxury retailer appears to be first casualty as calls for a boycott spread on social media Weibo and echoed on state-run media Growing tensions between Beijing and Ottawa over the arrest of a senior Huawei executive have inflicted damage on the luxury clothing retailer Canada Goose, as Chinese consumers call for a boycott of the brand. Shares in the company have plunged nearly 20% since the arrest last week of Huawei’s chief financial officers Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver. A Canadian judge granted bail to Meng on Tuesday evening.
Nancy Pelosi, the top Democrat in the U.S. House of Representatives, said on Wednesday she supports a proposal that would limit the terms of senior Democratic leaders, likely paving the way for her to reclaim the speaker's post in January when her party takes control of the chamber. "For some time, there have been a number of conversations to advance a proposal to institute term limits for senior leadership positions in our caucus," Pelosi said in a statement announcing her support for the plan. After Pelosi's announcement, a group of seven House Democrats who had not previously pledged their support said they would back her when the full House votes on Jan. 3.
A disgruntled employee at a Canadian Walmart decided that he wasn’t going to quit quietly. In a video posted to Facebook on Friday, a 17-year-old worker named Jackson Racicot grabbed the PA mic and told everyone in the store what he really thought about working there. Racicot then dove into individual grievances, starting with his manager who apparently had called him “a waste of time.” He goes on to say that promises had been made and not kept, and details the story of how he was given only benefits of a part-time employee even though he worked full-time.
A middle school student in Delaware has been allowed to change his surname after enduring relentless bullying from his peers. Joshua Trump, who is not related to President Donald Trump, will now be known at school as Joshua Berto after dropping his mother’s surname for his father’s. The 11-year-old’s parents told ABC affiliate WPVI that the bullying of their son had been relentless and first started when Donald Trump began his presidential campaign.
Japan is planning to tighten regulation of tech giants like Google and Facebook after an expert panel called for better oversight on competition and privacy, an official said Thursday. Japan has followed in the footsteps of other countries in scrutinising the dominant role played by the world's largest information technology companies, including Big Four tech firms Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon. Despite bringing benefits, tech giants "tend to monopolise the market through their features such as... low costs and economies of scale," the report said.
The outrage over a light sentence handed to a former Baylor University fraternity president accused of rape has already gotten him banned from his current school. The outcry may also cost the judge who approved a plea agreement that included no jail time. By Thursday night, more than 25,000 people had signed a petition for Judge Ralph Strother of McLennan County, Texas, to either resign or be removed from the bench after he accepted on Monday a deal that allowed Jacob Anderson to plea down to unlawful restraint, with deferred probation, counseling and a fine but no requirement he register as a sex offender.
Turkey will launch a new military operation against U.S.-backed Kurdish fighters in Syria "within a few days," President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday, a move likely to further strain ties between NATO allies Turkey and the United States. In recent months, Turkey has shelled Kurdish positions across the border in Syria, east of the Euphrates River, and has threatened to drive out the Syrian Kurdish militia known as the People's Protection Units, or YPG. The YPG is the main component of a Kurdish-led militia in Syria that rolled back the Islamic State group with the help of the U.S.-led coalition.
Insurance claims from the recent spate of California wildfires, including one ranked as the most deadly and destructive in state history, have topped $9 billion and are expected to grow, the state insurance commissioner reported on Wednesday. The Camp Fire, which erupted on Nov. 8 and quickly incinerated most of the Sierra foothills town of Paradise, about 175 miles (280 km) north of San Francisco, has accounted for the bulk of the claims, just over $7 billion of the total. That fire destroyed more than 18,500 structures, including nearly 14,000 homes, in and around Paradise, and killed 86 people, according to the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (Cal Fire).
Kurdish-led forces seized the Isil's main hub of Hajin Friday, a milestone in a massive and costly US-backed operation to eradicate the jihadists from eastern Syria. The Syrian Democratic Forces secured Hajin, the largest settlement in what is the last pocket of territory controlled by Isil, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said. "After a week of heavy fighting and air strikes, the SDF were able to kick IS out of Hajin," Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based monitoring organisation, said.
The company now keeps a three-person skeleton staff at its office on 15th Street, a few blocks from the White House, according to a person familiar with its operations. Huawei depleted its ranks in the nation’s capital months before facing what could be the legal fight of its life: a U.S. extradition request to Canada, which on Dec. 1 arrested Huawei’s finance chief over charges she conspired to evade sanctions against Iran. As the legal brawl risked spilling over into efforts by the U.S. and China to ease their trade tensions, President Donald Trump suggested Tuesday in an interview with Reuters that he’d intervene in the case if he thought it would help him get a trade deal with China.
Procter & Gamble is diversifying its beauty offering with the acquisition of Walker & Company Brands. Walker & Company Brands, which will operate as a separate and wholly-owned subsidiary of P&G, includes the specialized haircare ranges Bevel and FORM Beauty. "When I started Walker & Company Brands, I set out to build a company that would meet the health and beauty needs of people of color on a global scale," said Tristan Walker, CEO of Walker & Company Brands.
President Donald Trump is skimming over the facts when it comes to former national security adviser Michael Flynn's guilty plea for lying in the Russia investigation. In remarks Thursday at a meeting with governors-elect, Trump suggests the FBI never accused Flynn of lying in its probe into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia during the 2016 presidential election. Flynn will next week become the first White House official punished as part of special counsel Robert Mueller's ongoing investigation.
UPDATE 12/13/18: The embattled former leader of Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi, still in jail in Japan over financial irregularity charges from Nissan, is retaining his status as chairman and CEO at Renault. The French automaker's board of directors met today and made that announcement, stating that it finds Ghosn's compensation reports were "in compliance with applicable law" in France. Japanese prosecutors have formally charged Renault CEO Carlos Ghosn for making "false disclosures" about his income with Nissan, the automaker said on Monday.
A Florida man testified this week about fatally shooting his best friend ― who was long suspected of falling victim to alligators ― because he was having an affair with the friend’s wife. Brian Winchester told a courtroom in Tallahassee that he killed his best friend, Mike Williams, in 2000 and hid his body because he was having an extramarital relationship with Denise Williams, who is now on trial for first-degree murder, the Tallahassee Democrat reported. Winchester’s remarks came as the prosecution presented its case against Williams on Wednesday, the second day of testimony.
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday urged the United Nations to tighten restrictions on Iran's missiles, which he warned could strike US allies, but other powers called instead for dialogue. Pompeo headed to New York for a Security Council meeting on Iran, which recently confirmed a medium-range ballistic missile test, arguing it is legal and necessary for its defense. "We risk the security of our people if Iran continues stocking up on ballistic missiles," Pompeo told the Security Council.
Nelson Martinez, the jailed former head of Venezuela's state-run oil giant PDVSA who was arrested last year as part of anti-corruption purge, died in state custody Wednesday, authorities said. The chief prosecutor's office said Martinez suffered from a serious and chronic illness that led to his death at a medical facility where he was undergoing treatment. The death is likely to focus attention on the conditions in which authorities are holding key opponents and former government officials.
U.S. Democratic leaders rebuked President Donald Trump on Thursday for saying Mexico will pay for a border wall through a new trade deal, while Mexico's new president said the topic has not come up in his talks with Trump. The Republican president vowed during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign to build a wall along the border with Mexico to slow the flow of illegal immigration, and he has long pledged that Mexico - not U.S. taxpayers - would fund it. In a Twitter post early on Thursday, Trump said that unspecified savings for the United States as a result of the renegotiated trade deal between the United States, Mexico and Canada would pay for the wall.
Break out your ugliest sweater, Alaska Airlines passengers. Airline passengers may pay a pretty penny for priority boarding, but Alaska Airlines will let flyers wearing ugly sweaters board early on Dec. 21 in honor of National Ugly Holiday Sweater Day. This is the second year in a row the airline has celebrated the viral day.